5 Things Brands Can Learn From President Obama When Implementing A Continuous Personalized Campaign

Ever since the 2008 presidential primaries, which swept former three term Illinois senator, Barack Obama, to the White House, against Democratic front-runner and heavyweight, Hillary Clinton, the world has marveled at the most effective use of digital strategies ever deployed by a political campaign.

President Obama went on to the deploy those strategies time and again, in political fights over Obamacare, budget deficit debates, and once again in the 2012 elections, where they were used to defeat GOP nominee, Mitt Romney. Obama has successfully harnessed three aspects of modern digital marketing in a way which is unprecedented compared to previous residents of the White House, but also, in comparison to most large brands.

Only surpassed by the Ellen DeGeneres 10 person Samsung sponsored Oscar selfie (which got over 1.2 million retweets) was this Tweet when the 2012 election was called for Obama, which got over 800,000 retweets:

That’s digital power at the presidential level.

The three aspects of digital marketing the President has harnessed to such great effect are: personalization, content, and big data.

In this blog we are going to look at the use of personalized campaigning which resulted in clicks, conversions, and the ultimate currency of politics (besides funding, which these strategies got for Democrat candidates in record amounts): votes.

1. Personalized Landing Pages

Much like President Obama’s “Between Two Ferns” appearance, his use of communication channels which other office holders wouldn’t normally consider, resulted in the president answering questions for 30 minutes on Reddit.com.

Both before and after, his campaign team deployed personalized landing pages, which were very successful (below). Notice the line of sight, between Obama and the sign up form, which draws viewers directly to that form. As with many of these landing pages the copy was personalized for the audience, making people more likely to sign up.

2. Opt-in Data Collection Forms Work, With Personalization

Obamas campaign and political communication teams are very good at one thing: collecting email addresses. Okay, that’s not the only thing they’re good at, but they have mastered this particular skill.

Landing pages with call to action style copy, like “Take Action” and “I’m In!”, along with personalized opt-in pages, depending on the audience and location, all drive web visitors to eagerly hand over their email addresses.

3. Highly Clickable Subject Lines

The New York Times Magazine analyzed the subject lines used by President Obama, which admittedly aren’t the sort of subject lines most businesses could use. However, the lesson from these are to personalize for the audience and to give the intended recipients a “knowledge gap.”

This theory, proposed by Neuroeconomics expert, George Loewenstein, suggests that if you leave people wondering what they should know, what’s so important (or critical, as one subject line states), then you allow people to take the leap of curiosity and click.


Why does 86% of email go unread? Think back to the last email you received that was irrelevant to you. Did you read it to the end? Check out this Case Study on how to re-capture your audience’s attention in your own campaigns.


4. Smart Money Spinning Follow Up

Ever notice how asking for a little favor can quickly result in asking for a second, bigger favor, which, if you said yes, how can you possibly say no to the next? It’s called the foot-in-the-door-technique. Honey, can you do the dishes, and then pretty please take out the trash and recycling? Works every time.

On BarackObama.com the sign up page leads to a “Thank You” page, where, during campaign season, visitors were asked for a donation in small denominations (in terms of campaign spending). Normally, in sales situations, this is too aggressive, but in the case of the Obama campaigns (both in 2008 and 2012) it worked, brilliantly.

5. A/B Testing Key Messages

Whether through email marketing or on different versions of websites (especially e-commerce) the testing of different messages, designs, and even tiny tweaks on landing and opt-in pages can make a huge difference in terms of sign ups and conversions.

The BarackObama.com website was A/B tested in thousands of different ways. Here’s just one example:

And thus, with an image and “line of sight” style design implemented, which again is drawing people to the signup form.

One day a politician, non-profit campaign, or brand, will surpass the example of the Obama campaigns and the consistent use of personalized content which they’ve implemented since 2008. But for the moment, there’s a lot we can learn if we are looking to achieve results on the same scale.

Attentive.ly drives engagement with your campaigns by turning your existing audience into advocates.